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Imitation [Ruling On Participating In Non Muslim Religious Celebrations-Sheikh Salih Al Munajid]

Definition of imitation:
Imitation (Tashabbuh in Arabic) means resembling. If we say that
someone imitates someone else, we means that he looks like
him and acts like him. Likening a thing to something else
(Tashbeeh) means saying that it is like it. The word Tashabbuh
has many counterparts in Arabic which carry meanings such as
being like, imitating, looking like, following, agreeing with, taking
as an example, copying, etc. They all have shades of meaning of
their own, but they also overlap with the meaning of Tashabbuh.
In terms of the terminology of Fiqh, al-Ghuzzi ash-Shaafi’i
defined the word Tashabbuh as describing a person’s attempt to
be like the one whom he is imitating, in appearance,
characteristics, qualities and attributes. It implies making an effort
to achieve this and deliberately taking action for that purpose.
The ruling on imitating the disbelievers :
One of the most important basic principles of our religion is that
of al-Walaa’ wa al-Baraa’, loyalty (Walaa’) to Islam and its
people, and disavowal (Baraa’) of Kufr and its people. One of the
essential features of this disavowal of Kufr and its people is that
the Muslim should be distinct from the people of Kufr, and he
should feel pride in his religion and in being a Muslim, no matter
how strong and advanced and civilized the disbelievers may be,
and no matter how weak and backward and divided the Muslims
may be. It is not permissible under any circumstances to take the
strength of the disbelievers and the weakness of the Muslims as
an excuse for imitating and resembling them, as some hypocrites
and defeatist Muslims claim. The texts which forbid imitating the
disbelievers do not make any distinction between whether
Muslims are strong or weak, because the Muslim can be distinct
in his religion and have pride in being Muslim even when he is in
a weak position.
Allaah The Almighty calls us to be proud of Islam, and considers
this to be the best of speech and the best kind of pride, as He
Says (what means): {And who is better in speech than he who
says: “My Lord is Allah [believes in His Oneness],” and then
stands firm [acts upon His Order], and] invites [men] to Allah’s
[Islamic Monotheism], and does righteous deeds, and says: “I am
one of the Muslims.”} [Qur'aan 41:33]
Because it is so important for the Muslim to be distinguished from
the disbeliever, the Muslim is commanded to pray to Allaah The
Almighty at least seventeen times each day to help him to avoid
the path of the disbelievers and to guide him to the Straight Path
in verses (which mean): {Guide us to the Straight Way. The way
of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not [the way]
of those who earned Your Anger, nor of those who went astray} [
Qur'aan 1:6-7]
There are very many texts in the Qur’aan and Sunnah (Prophetic
tradition) which forbid us to imitate them, and which clearly state
that they are misguided; whoever imitates them, imitates them in
their misguidance. Allaah Says (what means):
§ {Then We have put you [O Muhammad] on a [plain] way of
[Our] commandment [like the one which We commanded Our
Messengers before you [i.e. legal ways and laws of the Islamic
Monotheism]. So follow you that [Islamic Monotheism and its
laws], and follow not the desires of those who know not.}
[Qur'aan 46:18]
§ {Were you [O Muhammad] to follow their [vain] desires after the
knowledge which has come to you, then you will not have any
Waliyy [protector] or Waaq [defender] against Allaah.} [Qur'aan
§ {And be not as those who divided and differed among
themselves after the clear proofs had come to them.} [Qur'aan 3:
Allaah The Almighty calls the believers to remember Him with
humility and to recite His Verses, then He Says (what means):
{lest they become as those who received the Scripture [the
Tawraat i.e. Torah] and the Injeel [i.e. Gospel] before [i.e. Jews
and Christians], and the term was prolonged for them and so
their hearts were hardened? And many of them were Faasiqoon
[the rebellious, the disobedient to Allaah].} [Qur'aan 57:16]
No doubt imitating them is one of the greatest indications that a
person has befriended them and loves them, and this contradicts
the idea of disavowal of the Kufr and its people. Allaah The
Almighty has forbidden the believers to take them as Awliyaa'
(friends, allies, etc.) and He has stated that taking them as such
causes a person to become one of them – Allaah forbid.
Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
§ {O you who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians as
Awliyaa’ [friends, protectors, helpers], they are but Awliyaa’ of
each other. And if any amongst you takes them [as Awliyaa’],
then surely, he is one of them.} [Qur'aan 5:51]
§ {You [O Muhammad ] will not find any people who believe in
Allaah and the Last Day, making friendship with those who
oppose Allaah and His Messenger [Muhammad ], even though
they were their fathers or their sons or their brothers or their
kindred (people).} [Qur'aan 58:22]
Shaykh al-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allaah have mercy on
him, said: “Imitation generates friendship and love, and regarding
them as allies in the inside, just as loving them on the inside
generates imitating them on the outside.”
And he also said, commenting on the Aayah (verse) from Soorat
al-Mujaadilah mentioned above: “Allaah tells us that there is
no (true) believer who takes a Kaafir as a friend, for whoever
takes a Kaafir as friend is not a believer. Imitation on the outside
implies that a person loves (the one whom he imitates), and so it
is forbidden.”
It was reported that the Prophet of Allaah, sallallaahu 'alayhi wa
sallam, said: “Whoever imitates a people is one of them.”
(Reported by Abu Daawood, al-Libaas, 1204; Ahmad,
2/05. Shaykh al-Islaam classed its Isnaad as Jayyid (good) in
 Al-Iqtidaa’, 1/042. See also al-Fataawaa, 25/133. Al-
Haafith ibn Hajar provided corroborating evidence in al-Fat-h,
with a Mursal report whose Isnaad is Hasan (6/89). As-
Suyooti classed it as Hasan, and al-Albaani classed it
as Saheeh in Jamee’ as-Saheeh, 5206)
Shaykh al-Islaam, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “This
Hadeeth at the very least implies that it is Haraam to imitate them
, even if it is only in external appearance, and it implies that the
one who imitates them is a Kaafir, as Allaah says (what means):
{And if any amongst you takes them [as Awliyaa’], then surely, he
is one of them.} [Qur'aan 5:51].” (Al-Iqtidaa’, 1/732)
Al-San’aani, may Allaah have mercy on him, said: “If a person
imitates the Kaafir in his dress, and believes that by doing so he
will be like him, then he is a Kaafir. If he does not believe this,
then there is a difference of opinion among the Fuqahaa’ (jurists)
in this case. Some of them say that he is a Kaafir, which is the
apparent meaning of the Hadeeth; others say that he is not a
Kaafir, but he should be disciplined.” (Subul as-
Salaam, 8/842) Shaykh al-Islaam, may Allaah have mercy on
him, said: “The reason behind the religion of Allaah and its rituals
vanishing, and Kufr and sin prevailing, is imitation of the
disbelievers; just as the means of preserving all good is by
following the ways and laws of the prophets." (Al-Iqtidaa’, 1/413)
There is much that could be said about imitation of the
disbelievers, but what we have said above is sufficient.

A Sin that Leads to Jannah

Ibn al-Qayyim (rahimahullah) said:

“Sin may be more beneficial for a person, if it leads him to repent, than doing a lot of acts of worship. This is what is meant by the words of one of the salaf:

‘A person may commit a sin and enter Paradise because of it, or he may do an act of worship and enter Hell because of it.’

  • Published in MANHAJ
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